MMORPG: Congrats on the 19th Everquest expansion. It is a testament to the game’s longevity. Can you tell us what the secret is?
Adam Bell: The secret to our success is listening to our players. We listen to what players want, and balance that with the things they didn’t know they wanted yet. It is a difficult balancing act that I believe has treated everyone well.
MMORPG: What is it like to write new material for the game? It has such a rich history.
Adam Bell: That is one of the most enjoyable parts of the job. We get to be creative and create a world for our players to enjoy. It can be a challenge to keep with all of the history that is part of the game, but it is ultimately rewarding to help add to such a complex world.
MMORPG: The community is extremely strong in EQ, how do you go about working with them on the game now vs. say when it launched?
Adam Bell: The passion of our players is amazing! Our players now have even stronger opinions, and a wealth of knowledge that just didn’t exist when EverQuest first launched. They help keep us on the path of success for EverQuest.
MMORPG: Hosting a level cap of 100 is a huge achievement for any player, what awaits them at the end of this new journey to level 100?
Adam Bell: There’s never any end to the path in EverQuest, it’s just a temporary waypoint. EverQuest offers a number of ways beyond levels for players to advance their characters, including a huge tradeskill system and many thousands of Alternate Advancement abilities. There’s no reason for us to stop at level 100 either, that’s just where we’re going to with this release!
MMORPG: How has EQ adapted to other core MMO mechanics that have been introduced over the years? What do you think was the biggest change to the game?
Adam Bell: We continue to adapt to our players. Some mechanics from other games have made it to our game, as many of ours have made it to other games. We have kept to our core of game-play, while giving features players want. With so many features we’ve added over the years, it’s difficult to point out any one feature that is the biggest! In my personal opinion, I think our biggest change was to allow hover mode. Hover mode allows players that are killed by NPC's to "hover" over their corpse for 5 minutes to allow another player to resurrect them without them ever leaving the zone they are in. Without this, when players died, they immediately zoned to the place where they set their spirit to go.
MMORPG: The notes for the expansion seem to add a lot of customization to players. How do you see players changing their avatars with this new expansion?
Adam Bell: One of the biggest aspects of customization in the new Rain of Fear expansion is the new way we are granting items. The visible items, normally called "armor" are items that are seen on a player when they wear it. These will continue to be character class specific. Other items, often called non-visible items, or "gear", are still tailored for particular class combinations as they have in the past, but we are now allowing any class to wear them. This will allow players to fine-tune some of their statistics in ways that are not in our direct plans, but may suit the particular player in a way they prefer.
Players often utilize items or value statistics in ways we can’t predict or expect. That’s one of the beauties of working with such an informed and passionate community. There are constant discoveries and re-evaluations going on amongst our players as to what they think “the best” of anything is and the new system will allow them to itemize as they see fit.
MMORPG: Tell us about the Aggro Meter, it seems like a much needed addition to the game especially in regard to raids and boss fights.
Adam Bell: For the Aggro meter, we decided to try to achieve a balance. Before the aggro meter, players had to guess how much the NPC's hated them. Through years of play they obtained practice and could make a good estimate. However, it is that, an educated guess.
With the Aggro meter, players will be able to see where they stand on the non player character that they have targeted. It will show a range of 0 to 100. Zero means that the NPC has no hatred towards the player at all. 100 means that the player is currently the most hated of that NPC, and that NPC will be attacking the player if they are within range, and it will chase that player if they are not. The meter will also display the hate level of another player. If the first player is the most hated, this will show the hate level of the second most hated, and let the first player know who that is. If the first player is not the most hated, it will show the most hated player.
This status can be seen in other windows too, and the players can customize where it shows to their liking. Additionally, all of the various parts of the meter will be available for players that make custom UI modifications, and they can use it within their custom user interfaces.
MMORPG: What is the formula for EverQuest to continue into the next decade? How will the community get involved?
Adam Bell: The formula for the next decade is more EverQuest! It’s important for us to continue to offer new content and new challenges for our players. Beyond that it’s difficult to say, but there will be more of it!
MMORPG: Tell us your favorite part of the new expansion.
Adam Bell: My favorite area in Rain of Fear is the crater in Shards Landing. The NPC's there have their own life, and it offers the players a nice central hub to experience the content of Rain of Fear.